Riot Strikes Chinese City Where iPhone 5s Were Reportedly Made

The melee was sparked by security guards assaulting a worker who failed to show his identification when entering a dormitory, according to local NGOs

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Reuters

As onlookers watch from the outside, workers walk past several paramilitary police vehicles near a Foxconn Tech-Industry Park entrance in Taiyuan in China's Shanxi province on Sept. 24, 2012

Gather 80,000 people together anywhere in the world, and it’s not surprising when tempers flare. On the evening of Sept. 23, riots broke out among workers employed by Foxconn, the world’s largest electronic-parts maker, forcing assembly lines in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan to sit idle for a day. Thousands of people were involved in the melee, which was sparked by security guards’ assault of a Foxconn worker who failed to show his identification upon entering a dormitory, according to information supplied by factory employees to two NGOs that monitor labor conditions in China. Pictures and video posted online showed broken windows and a Foxconn shuttle bus with a damaged window, although it is difficult to confirm the authenticity of the images.

Meanwhile, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the brawl stemmed from fighting at a Foxconn dormitory between employees from two Chinese provinces, Shandong and Henan, prompting 5,000 security forces to swarm the scene. Foxconn Technology Group released a statement on Monday that about 40 people had been taken to the hospital with injuries after a “personal dispute between several employees escalated into an incident involving some 2,000 workers.” The company’s statement continued, “The cause of this dispute is under investigation … but it appears not to have been work-related.”

(MORE: The Cult of Apple in China)

Foxconn, which is Taiwan-owned, employs about 1 million people across China. Its customers include a Who’s Who of leading electronics firms, from Apple and Microsoft to Nokia and Sony. The Taiyuan plant, where insiders say components for the iPhone 5 were assembled this summer, began operations eight years ago. Today it employs more than 79,000 people in a sooty provincial capital once better known for its coal mines and steel mills. Earlier this year, workers staged a short strike over salary; last October, the local government urged Foxconn to stop emitting noxious fumes that were disturbing locals living near the factory.

What exactly caused the Sept. 23 Taiyuan riot is still unclear. In June, a riot near a Foxconn plant in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu was initially linked to labor issues. But it turned out that an unrelated dispute between Foxconn workers and a restaurant owner had triggered the unrest. Still, Foxconn has been criticized in the past for the working conditions at its factories, especially after a string of worker suicides two years ago. Last year, four Foxconn workers in Chengdu were killed when a buildup of aluminum dust exploded in an inadequately ventilated workshop where Apple products were made. After consumer pressure mounted, Apple signed off on an audit by the Fair Labor Association, which found that more than half the surveyed workers in Chengdu had either seen or been involved in an accident.

(MORE: Should Americans Care About Apple’s iPhone-Factory Conditions?)

Last week, to coincide with the release of the new iPhone 5, the Hong Kong–based NGO Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior published a report on Foxconn, accusing the partsmaker of subjecting workers to excessive overtime and low wages despite vows by Foxconn and Apple to improve labor conditions, noting, “When the peak season comes, [workers] are tied to the production lines with just one day off in 13 working days, or no rest day at all in a month, all to cope with the public demand for the new Apple products.”

When I was working on a story about Apple in China earlier this year, Louis Woo, a special assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, told me, “Since we are the largest consumer-electronics maker in the world and probably the largest private employer in China, this position carries a certain social responsibility. Foxconn is not perfect — there is no such thing as a perfect factory — but we aspire to be a better company every day.” It’s true that Foxconn’s profile has ballooned because of its relationship with the world’s most valuable company, Apple. If the Taiyuan riot had occurred at a domestic manufacturer of Chinese electronics, the world’s attention wouldn’t have been trained on a coal town few non-Chinese could identify. But that’s the price of success for Foxconn and Apple.

— With reporting by Gu Yongqiang and Chengcheng Jiang / Beijing

37 comments
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Cynthia Rouse
Cynthia Rouse

Chinese Spring Roll...

Sounds like an art project for Ai Weiwei

mike s.
mike s. like.author.displayName 1 Like

steve jobs is in hell laffing at us all.

swift2010
swift2010 like.author.displayName 1 Like

it is the responsbility of Apple to make sure these employees are treated well or US Laws need to comply that Apple are not exploiting these poor people 

everyone seems to think Apple is so great even though their products technically are not so good /well Apple should not have success over the dead bodies of these workers

frankblank
frankblank

The last paragraph of the article was revealing, and true.  If apple were not involved, would we care that Foxconn employees had committed suicide?  Nah.  A few republican legislators would look at it as a possible solution to teachers' unions, but nothing else. 

Jon Gibson
Jon Gibson like.author.displayName 1 Like

Apple sucks?  Don't buy ANY electronics then, they're all made in China, Korea, Thailand...  It's depressing to see people, the majority of people, so stupid and narrow sighted.  Depressing, but not surprising.

KJak
KJak

The more I learn about Apple and its operations in China, the less enthused I am about continuing as one of their customers. I have various Apple products. I haven't yet purchased the new iPhone and I don't think I will. I think its time to get off the Apple kool-aid. This company has record profits - more than any other American corporation but has yet to put Americans to work in this country. I wouldn't normally care about it but I've grown disgusted by these companies who get tax breaks, sit on billions, and do nothing for the American economy by which they prosper. Yep, I think I just talked myself out of buying that new iPhone - or anything made by Apple for that matter. Just wish more Americans would do the same.

cjacja
cjacja

Apple get s the press but Foxcon also makes Nokia and Microsoft products.  Ths factory stamps ot metal parts for use in many different products.   So if you hate Foxcon and better not buy Dell or Nokia or Microsoft or many other brands.   

Cynthia Rouse
Cynthia Rouse like.author.displayName 1 Like

Apple is the world's largest plantation that exploits slave labor, pays no US taxes, employs no US factory workers, has more money than the US Treasury, and pays its employees 18$ for a 70 hour work week. They epitomize everything harsh and vicious about business.

They abuse their employees, and spy on their customers; I would never own one of their gadgets. I would not want to contribute a single dime to their company. If they had a shred of conscience they would build factories here.

They don't.

Josh Monk
Josh Monk

cja I would pay that much for one because the quality of a laptop made here in the USA would far exceed anything made in the sweatshops in China. And if we brought all the jobs home, it would drive wages up for everyone, and we would be able to afford those higher-priced, higher-quality American-made goods. Try explaining this simple economic principle to a Republican, though. *rolls eyes*

cjacja
cjacja

How is apple different from Microfot ro Dell or Nokia or Acer?   All those company use the SAME Foxcon factory and the same workers?

BTW how much more would you pay for a 100% made in USA notebook PC?  Would you pay $5,000 for one?  That is about what it would cost to make them in the US.   

Yacko
Yacko

This isn't an article about Apple. This is about a Foxconn factory whose output might go to any company. You have likely bought an electronic device from a company not named Apple that was manufactured at a Foxcoon factory. Foxconn counts as clients and partners:

Acer

Amazon

Apple

Barnes amp; Noble

Cisco

Dell

Hewlett-Packard

Intel

Lenovo

Logitech

Microsoft

Motorola Mobility

Netgear

Nintendo

Nokia

Panasonic

Philips

Samsung

Sony

Toshiba

Vizio

Foxconn operates factories in the following countries:

China

Brazil

Europe (Czech Republic - Hungary - Slovakia

India

Japan

Malaysia

Mexico

There are many candidates for blame, companies and governments. Oddly enough, Apple may be one of the better ones as Apple has tried to hold Foxconn accountable. Unfortunately change happens at a slower pace than people want. The likely outcome, as assembly robots get more and more facile, is that human workers will be largely replaced by machines and there will be few jobs for humans. Ironically, this period of exploitation by Foxconn may be the "golden age" when jobs were plentiful and people could earn a wage, such as it is.

KJak
KJak

Yes but none of those companies are sitting on top of record profits  - the most of ANY US company. Jeesh people - actually READ the comment before you comment.

Melissa A. Cayer
Melissa A. Cayer

Weird, I would not expect to see these US competitors using the same hardware manufacturer.

cjacja
cjacja

Why not?  Every US computer maker except Apple buy their operating system from Microsoft.  So why shouldn't all of them buy the other parts from the same place?

I think most of these US companies need to get off their buts and design their own software and their own hardware rather then simply sticking their brand name on a Chinese part and then loading  whatever Microsoft sans to give them.   They all need to stop building clones of each other.

Jon Gibson
Jon Gibson

So, you're leaving the industrialized world....?  For where?

KJak
KJak

No, you short-sighted smartie pants. Do you seriously think that not buying any more Apple products regulates me to a third world existence? Are you in the 4th grade?

Sabi Hellson
Sabi Hellson

For a Samsung, obviously.

Yacko
Yacko

Samsung is an on and off Foxconn client and partner.

akpat
akpat

 Well said. I dont use Apple for those reasons.

dvdlucs
dvdlucs like.author.displayName 1 Like

shame on apple for their slave labor attitudes and policy

cjacja
cjacja

(1) Why single out Apple?  They make parts for MANY other companies at the same factory.   Dell, Acer, Nokia and many others.

(2) they are NOT slaves.  From their point of view a factory job is a very good job.  It is much better than working on a farm outdoors in the hot sun.  Most left the farm job to come to work in the factory.  Pretty much like what happened here in the US 100 years ago.

nomanzone
nomanzone

Exactly what is "slave labor" policy you are referring to? They work there because they want to, and because they get better pays than they would otherwise as peasants. They can quit if they want to. They can even strike.  We have migrant workers working in the farms and meat processing plants in worse conditions and with fewer rights.  Apple makes great products that people want to buy, at same time makes a lot money and creates a lot jobs that feed lot of people.  Isn't this capitalism at its best? 

kev7117in
kev7117in

Come on Norman, dig up your heart that your mother gave you. They are recruited in country villages with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads ( sometimes girls as young as 13 ) and for $o.5o hr have to work 100 or 120 hours a week with maybe one day off or not if its a new major product production run and strikes are illegal and any one organizing is beaten and sent off to  jail and they are watched constantly for underperformance by supervisors standing behind them at work .  When off duty cameras and  audio follow every move in the dorms and hallways and bathrooms so anyone speaking up is in grave danger not the least of all being blacklisted (legal) forever....       This is Capitalism    At It's Worst

  If this feeds a lot of people it does so at a tremendous cost of misery.  So Apple has a product that I don't think is so great (too me it's technology dumbed down for Yuppies and Housewives) and even though they have this product produced at the lowest price possible , when it gets here they put a price on their product which is higher than it would probably be if it were made in a Union Shop here in the U.S.A.  I call that immoral and not to put too fine a point on it, but decidedly un Christian. Can i get a Hurrah from somebody on this?? 

    So,  Apple could insist on better working conditions in every way for these Human Beings and Foxconn and other companys doing business with major US companys would have to comply. If those workers were paid $2. or $3. hr  and worked a 40 hr wk + overtime  Then maybe an American company would find it possible to compete and certainly even you might agree that those peasants would be better off.  The problem is Coporate Greed.  The fact is whatever the cost to manufacture these wiggets they are grossly overpriced to the point that we pay through the nose for them and even paying those workers as i stated would barely affect Apples and Oranges profits.  We are being  Ripped Off and the Chinese are being exploited!!!

     Finally American Corporations Need to be Regulated to have Fair Prices and practices ( i do not know how we do this..  honestly) and as to the migrants they are a differant subject .  They can sometimes make $20.  hr off the books but are otherwise also taken advantage of and blamed (as scapegoats) for problems in the economy which have to do with the Greed of Rich People (generaly speaking)Fingers tired, i quit now...

dvdlucs
dvdlucs like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is what slave labor does, shame on apple

dvdlucs
dvdlucs like.author.displayName 1 Like

this is what slave labor does, shame on apple for creating this enviorment

dionkraft
dionkraft like.author.displayName 1 Like

Unions will form and you know the rest...

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

The working conditions of the Foxconn, the low wages, the long hours, the cramped living conditions, the dangerous work environment...I believe these are the "good ole days" the Republicans are forever pining away for.  

cjacja
cjacja

That is only part of it.  "pay no US taxes" is what they are after too.  But you are right about dumping all those "regulations" like minimum wage and pollution and worker rights.    It WILL happen here eventually all those jobs will come back to the US and we will be making $2/hr while locked in big compounds.   

As I always say:  "If you want one of those Chinese manufacturing jobs then move to China and you almost certainly can have one of them."   Or vote GOP and we will become China and you will not have to move.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray like.author.displayName 1 Like

America has successfully exported Corporate greed and employee exploitation to China.

American and Chinese executives achieve great success and financial reward.

We should be proud of ourselves.

proletaria
proletaria

These are not uniquely American or western traits. Read a touch on Chinese history and you will discover the exploitation of millions is par for the course.

zza371creek
zza371creek

China is starting into the next stage of development with the growth in wages and workers now wanting more out of work.  It used to be that coming off the farm and going to a factory job was good enough for a worker in china. Now you have a few generations into the development of china and they want higher wages and better work.

Labor unrest in china is just a sign of this larger pattern.

Many cities along the coast of china already have seen wages up to 8 to 10 dollars an hour now.

China is now the second largest luxury goods consumer in the world. It shows you how fast the wages and development has gone.

 

cjacja
cjacja

You are correct.  Eventually China will "catch up" to the rest of the world.   Japan went through this too.  Not many decades ago there were low wage worker in Japan who made "junk".  Now the best made stuff comes from Japan or maybe Germany and both contries have very high standards of living.   China will follow the example of Japan but it might take another 40 years.

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

People wont care unless it stops devices from shipping.

Phone Source
Phone Source

China needs to establish a higher minimum wage and better working conditions for its citizens. But it is not going to happen anytime soon because China is mostly interested in keeping all the jobs of every country in China.